Good Evening Friends and welcome again to the IONA Spirituality Institute Mass for our Earth, our Mother and Sister, our Living Common Home.  We gather this night to celebrate the SOLEMNITY OF JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE - a marvelous invitation into the sacred myth and mystery of our faith that is the climax of our liturgical year, and the coda to the feast of the Ascension.  

This feast was inaugurated by Pope Pius XI in 1926 after the calamity of the First World War – a war among monarchies and empires that turned our planet into blood-soaked killing fields.  It was to be a war to end all wars, but it tragically brought us to another great war, and though empires fell in both conflagrations, empires still remain, likewise built on the power of the few and violence for the many.  These empires are still structured on injustice and racism, aggression, deception, and of course, money.   For Christians in the Catholic tradition, this feast is intended to be an act of ritual resistance – in imitation of Jesus - to all and any empire that would unleash such suffering on innocent, disenfranchised creatures. This feast is, therefore, a religious act of resistance to all such regimes of illegitimate power.  

Likewise, it is also a political rite of resistance, begun by our Exodus ancestors, and resurrected by Jesus, who was executed for awakening its vision in the oppressed of his imperial moment, and throughout history, even to all of us…. In this solemnity, Christians are invited to radically shift allegiance from worldly empires to the great work of building another kind of realm:  a reign of justice and compassion, of healing and joy.

To express the deeper dimensions of Jesus’ messianic “kingship,” this solemnity was amended by Pope Paul VI to stretch our imaginations to a wider horizon – the horizon of the universe itself, where the image of the historical Jesus dissolves into its deeper mystery, the unfolding dynamism of the Cosmic Christ, Alpha and Omega, mystery unnamable but palpable.  And so our liturgy tonight is also an act of cosmic celebration.

Let us bring into this Eucharist all who cry out forKing Jesus, the non-violent revolutionary, the ever-creative evolutionary pioneer of a new world and a new Creation.  Let us bear up especially the people, the animals, the lands, the rescue workers and medics of California, a region incinerated in the great transition our Earth now suffers as one civilizational enterprise necessarily yields to another.  

Ride on King Jesus is the theme of our worship tonight, as we imagine King Jesus at the head of all caravans of migrants and dispossessed moving around this globe, searching for the safety and welcome he promises.  Let us ride on with all people and creatures around the planet who share the hope of this solemnity.   
Kathleen Deignan, CND. 



What a marvelous solemnity we are summoned to this night: Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.   It at once awakens many levels of our living in this historical and cosmic realm. It is, as we have heard, a ritual act of resistance to all and any powers or empires that would build a world on the sacrifice of the innocent, the powerless. It is also a ritual act intended to stir our cosmic consciousness, and encounter in one and the same icon of “King Jesus,”
an historical messiah and the Cosmic Christ.

For me, no one quite gets the edge of the political dimensions of a feast like this so well as the Irish Jesus scholar, John Dominic Crossan (Google for a list of his publications and study resources).  Please let me capture for us some of his insights that will let this celebration of Christ the King nourish our spiritual imaginations so we may be empowered for the work of resistance and mystical development to which this liturgy summons us.

First, it is important to understand that, like so much of what the Gospel writers have Jesus say and do – his proclamation of the “Empire of God is simultaneously utterly real and utterly ironic.  Remember he is preaching, at great risk, in and to the Roman Empire where Caesar is the divine ruler and Pax Romana reigns.  So to proclaim an alternate empire is pure sedition for which Jesus will pay dearly.  But this does not stop him from dramatizing in his every word and deed, that God’s Realm as a rule of reversals.

Unlike what pertains in the Kingdom of Caesar, in God’s Kingdom, power is service; wealth is dispossession; force is the magnetism of truth; formation is persuasion; hierarchy dissolves into circularity; dominance is the sounding in perfect pitch, a polyphony of praise.   In God’s Rule, the leader does not make martyrs, she herself/himself is martyred, raised up in perpetual subversive memory, and therefore is undying.  In God’s kingdom, leaders don’t enslave, they ransom.

Those who choose Christ as the model king, the regent of the Realm of God, fall in love with him and stake their lives on the freedom he offers, willing to forsake everything else for living within it.  
The people who choose to belong to the realm of Christ the King know their primary identity comes from their divine source, and no other source or force.  We know our citizenship commits us to a virtual though real realm, actual and unfolding in our midst.  We know that such a realm is a common home of care and compassion: a “kin-dom,
as we lately say, a familial web of safety and grace.

The civic duty of such a citizen of Christ’s Realm is to be a p
ublic / global servant who will actualize the vision, values, and virtues of our kin/dom.  This is our vocation.  It is at once a revolutionary vocation in the political domain, and it is an evolutionary vocation in the cosmic domain.  It is above all, a mystical vocation in the heart’s domain.


Our true vocation as activators of the realm of God is to live into the next iteration of our human nature – for access into the Kingdom of Jesus, requires a death to all lesser alliances, to all lesser formations of mind and heart, and a pledge to bring the evolutionary enterprise of human and earth transformation forward, at great sacrifice.

When Pope Pius XI inaugurated this feast in 1925, its motto was:  “Pax Christi in 
regno  Christi” (the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ).   This is not the Pax Romana of Rome, or Pax Americana, the weaponized peace of the United States.  It is Pax Christi, the Peace of the Christic Spirit, which the world (the pathologies of civilizations) cannot give.

Second, God's Kingdom, in the teaching of Jesus, is a multivalent enterprise – really here but not complete, really historical, but also a spiritual domain, God-given, but us-driven. This feast has always had an eschatological or even apocalyptic tone – that is, a futuristic hope and a catastrophic resolution. But that climax for which what our spiritual ancestors waited with eager faith was not an end to Earth or world, but to an end to evil, violence, and oppression. What they expected was not a transfer from Earth to heaven as the grand reward of faith, but a transfer of heaven to earth as the fruition of our faith.
As Crossan notes, Jesus too anticipated the “Divine Clean-Up of Earth,” but he shifted from a revolutionary to an evolutionary paradigm to understand and teach about how this will happen.  Stop waitingyearning, hoping for God to do something, he taught.  YOU do something and God will be in that doing. Enter into the process in your own TIME and stop looking for an alternative somewhere else in SPACE.

As we shall soon pledge in the Prayer of Jesus we have gathered to intone, the kingdom is not about going to heaven but bringing heaven to earth.  And every time we pray that prayer we repudiate and negate all other empires that lay claim to our allegiance and liberty. 

Finally, here is the best insight I have learned from Crossan.  This Kingdom of Earth labor has no central headquarters, no hierarchy to rule it, no one leader calling the shots, or king-pin to fund it.  The realm of God is not a structure of governance but a style of governance.  As Crossan notes:  Jesus told his companions to heal the sick, to eat with those they healed, and to announce that the Realm of God had arrived. Healing is the basic spiritual power. Eating is the basic physical power. That mutual sharing of spiritual and physical
power is what we are about.

To put it in an aphorism: as movement founders, John the Baptist had a monopoly but Jesus the Rabbi had a   franchise. In order to end the Baptism movement, Herod Antipas had only to execute John. On the other hand, Jesus told his companions to go out and do exactly what he was doing. By the time the authorities came for Jesus, the Kingdom movement could no longer be stopped simply by executing Jesus.  

So here we are 2000 years later celebrating the feast of Christ the King of the Universe – I hope we sense the revolutionary irony of that – the truly subversive memory we are playing with tonight! And then there is this deeper and greater looming mystery enhancing it all:  Christ Cosmic King.  Let me paraphrase Crossan again:
Describing humanity as a “great evolutionary experiment,” Crossan notes, “there is, of course, the reality of heaven and hell, but not as locations in the next life, but as options in this life.  And at the end, there will be a great final judgment on the human race: Did we do it or did we not blow it?”

We are at a real cross roads with that question now. w
ith competing imperialisms all around. The legacy of the longest running empire, Rome, was to make the world the wasteland and call it peace.  Please God, this will not be our destiny.   We are past Pax Romana now.  What shall our era see on the horizon? The continuation of Pax Americana?  The shift to Pax Russica?  Pax Sinica, Pax Saudi Arabia?  The peace of the 1% or of the 99?  The “peace of wild things” or the peace of a world made wilderness?
Enter Thomas Berry – summoner to the Great Work: to reinvent ourselves as a new species, non-destructive species.  Here is a work for us now - to announce a new age
: Pax Gaia.  This is the form of heralding the ongoing emergence of Pax Christi.
Enter now all our spiritual relations who have been about this sacred transformation throughout the ages.  Tonight especially, we welcome one empowering cohort who knew the weight of empires of racism and slavery on them, of identity theft and soul theft and who never ever were broken – traumatized yes, but never broken.  They have left us the power of their faith and vision in their songs of subversion and triumph, their proclamations that they belong to no empire but the empire of love, the realm of the liberating God.
Let’s let their song for this feast be our way of taking in the energy of this liturgy, and let their anthem of a new republic of the heart and conscience resound in us in the days and weeks to follow.  Find the never-will-be-a slave song on your music platforms -  “Ride on King Jesus” -  and be ready for that jump-up morning.   
Ride on King Jesus no man will hinder me ! 


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